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T2 - Fantasy CD (album) cover

FANTASY

T2

 

Heavy Prog

3.52 | 24 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Trotsky
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Initial impressions can certainly be misleading. When I first heard this archival recording by the mythical trio T2, I was bitterly disappointed and in fact, gave up halfway thinking that they'd have been better off leaving this stuff in the vaults.

For the opener Highway is a de rigeur late 60s blues-rock that has been done much better by many other bands, and the first half of Careful Sam starts off as a psych-era staple ballad that "even" The Association could have done ... although it admittedly becomes an aimless hard-rock jam (strangely similar to some of the rambles of early Amon Duul II and Black Sabbath). Neither tune is really bad, but they are incapable of matching the expectations created by It'll All Work Out In Boomland ... after all many of these tunes were recorded around the time of said masterpiece, and were apparently meant to come out on an aborted second album.

But it wasn't long before I started thanking the heavens for this release, which emerged a full quarter of a century after T2 first broke up. As the first really strong track on the album, Timothy Monday had something to do with it, but even then it suffers from having the worst recording quality of all the tracks resurected for this release. There certainly is an unfinished feel to almost all the songs here (with no vocal overdubs for a start) but it also contains some really exciting progressive rock.

What makes this record a corking release are the trio of songs on the latter half that come close to matching the lofty standards set by the debut. This album really takes off with CD/The Minstrel. Even if the first half of the 10 minute track is one I'd heard before as a bonus track off the 1992 reissue of Boomland, here we see it in its full glory, seguing into The Minstrel. The Jimi Hendrix influence is very strong in the initial portion of CD, but T2 burst into light-jazz runs and The Mistrel is an ethereal mellotron-drenched tune, with strings and flute sounds prevalent ... one of the best melancholy ballads from a band that perfected this style.

Fantasy is another absolute classic, and is probably closest in tone to the debut albums's In Circles, what with its gorgeous melody and mix of barely restrained agression with delicate sparse passages, all this before a masterful Keith Cross jazzy-inflected jam unfolds ... first light with sneaky little touches but by its conclusion all fire and brimstone, before the return of Dunton's vocals brings the piece to its natural conclusion.

The final piece is a classic example of saving the best for last. Simply called T2, it is simply beautiful, and guaranteed to melt the hearts of Moody Blues/Barclay James Harvest fans, with its superb usage of flute/strings sounds on the melltron, although if frequently rocks harder and heavier than either of these bands could. At various points during this 14-minute long gem, there is even some enjoyable electric piano from Cross demonstrating what an exceptional talent (and loss) he was. Sure there is the odd snatch of leaden drumming or an off-pitch note from Cross' guitar ... but this is one of the greatest "in the vault" songs I have ever heard!

To sum up, Fantasy is an essential companion to It'll All Work Out In Boomland. One that takes longer to get into, and that can perhaps only really be understood in context, once one had heard and fallen in love with Boomland. For me hearing this album was like seeing a long-lost love and getting a rude shock ... and then getting to know her and falling in love all over again. ... 71% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 4/5 |

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